found object…shopping list

Walking along the deserted beach last Saturday, I happened across a shopping list on the sand just above the waterline. Neatly folded, it had escaped a pocket.

Chemist, Asian inspired groceries and turtle food….

A small bird of prey appeared from wet patch at bottom of page!

shopping-list

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interview with a shaman

Recently I was interviewed in my community. The text below documents that talk…

 

You are a Shaman?
Yes.

What is a Shaman?
A Shaman is a conduit, an intermediary traversing between worlds. These intermediaries have existed across the globe in multi-varied cultures and eras. Indigenous Tribal Shamans may be rare now, but world-walkers ‘Shamans’ exist regardless of culture, setting or time in history.

What do you mean worlds or worldwalkers?
Generally most people perceive everyday existence, as reality, or this world. To the Shaman however reality does not just include this world, but other worlds frequented by spirits. All of this is also reality. A Shaman walks between these worlds.

Where are these other worlds?
Actually they are all here. They are not even really ‘other’, as they are here anyway; it’s just that the gateways to these other worlds are not open in most people. Gateways are open to a Shaman. A Shaman moves between these worlds.

And these worlds are frequented by spirits?
Yes.

Can you give an example?
There are endless. For example, there are spirits of place. These spirits may be people or ancestors who once lived in a place, Shaman spirits, they may be animal or bird spirits, even ocean or wind spirits, or house spirits, or tree spirits.
People have guiding spirits, people may have picked up malevolent or disruptive spirits.
This other world is very much alive and just as real as the everyday world. Some of these spirits may be angry or dangerous, others placid.

And a Shaman engages these spirits? Why?
Because spirits are integral to life. They play their role in a place or a person’s life. A Shaman listens to these spirits, talks with them, is an intermediary between ‘that’ world and ‘this’ world. A Shaman helps to harmonise spirits of person or place.
All Shamans are not the same. There is not a single Shamanism. Shamans have skills and abilities in varied areas and engage with very different spirits in different ways.
A Shaman communicates with spirits because they have to, they have no choice.

Why?
You cant chose to be a Shaman. Almost anyone can have a Shamanic experience but ALL of the life of a Shaman is a Shamanic experience. There is no let-up. Shamans are born, or persons are born with the potential to be a Shaman. That potential comes about because of the make-up of the person. There needs to be certain wiring. That wiring means that gateways and connections to spirit occur. Not now and then, but always. Mostly, in the case of Shamans, that wiring becomes evident following sickness, or prolonged period of mental confusion or intense stress or pressure.
Often Shamans have health conditions like migraine, mental idiosyncrasies like schizophrenia, seizures, endocrine irregularities.
During the prolonged bout of sickness, the individual hits rock bottom, is torn apart, dies as that person. They are reborn anew. Mostly, not reborn free of the condition, but because gateways are open, they are able to listen to spirits and thus manage their unique wiring and learn how to use it beneficially. They are reborn as a Shaman, a Shaman in training.
If they don’t listen the result can be further deteriorating sickness, complete mental breakdown, insanity or even death. It is a situation of Shamanize or suffer.
There is no choice. Shamans are chosen.

When did you become a Shaman?
The short answer is I was going crazy in my late twenties. Intense mental confusion by day, hearing things, seeing things, that I was trying to manage by meditation. Wild dream-scapes by night that saw me astral travelling, massive energy rushes as I had lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences, nightmares with spirits hovering around the bed. This went on for months.
Severe migraine headaches, weird glandular activity, a war zone going on in my head.
Then one night I went into a cave not far from home. An unfamiliar harmony descended. I saw a spirit enter into me through my brow. That spirit proved to be a lifesaver. I emerged from that cave different from when I went in.

Everything was better?
No. But in the ensuing period, I learnt how to listen, feel and communicate with spirits. As I got better at this so to my wellbeing improved.
The Shaman spirit guided me.
Suffering ended. Harmony occurs.
Pain never goes, the wiring and make-up means that you feel physical pain. Often intensely, but in harmony with spirits pain becomes harmonious pain. After all, some of the spirits you encounter are not pleasant, can be treacherous and destructive. You feel all of this.

Prior to this period in your twenties did you have any contact with spirits?
I was an only child. I can recall at a very young age having three ‘imaginary’ friends. They went with me everywhere, I constantly communicated with them, and they with me. This lasted for about 3 years. Then one day I went on a camping trip with my parents and I buried them in the ashes of the fire, and that was that.
Later at about 11, I self-taught myself meditation and felt presence around me. On reflection, feeling spirits started when I was young.

You buried your friends in the campfire?
Ha, yes. It seemed appropriate at the time!

And what does shamanic work involve now?
Those situations that I encountered and similar, I now help others to overcome.

How?
I feel the energy-body of the person. I look, I listen. Sometimes there is a disruptive spirit that needs to be released. Sometimes the way needs to be paved for a new spirit. Sometimes there are guiding spirits that need oxygen. Sometimes it is a process of balancing these spirits. Every instance differs somewhat.
I also work with the local landscape that I have a special affinity for, perhaps conducting a tree-planting ceremony, or harmonising work in that area. As you know, this town has a rich history being a pioneering fishing town, once home to a thriving Indigenous culture, is a popular tourist destination, has many offbeat characters and the cliffs at the Headland have seen many tragic suicides over the years. It is home to diverse fauna, flora and striking landforms. The Sea-Eagle is always high in the sky watching. More on the Headland Spirits.  More on North Head Spirits.

Thank you, perhaps we can talk more soon?
OK, why not!.

 

intermediary

The stairs at the northern end of Di-Dell Street link top to bottom of town, houses to harbour, caravan park to sea-pool, hill to flat. The steps connect, are an intermediary.
More days per week than not, I climb these stairs on my way to the Headland, all 89 that rear up in a straight line to the sky, then snake off in another direction for another 20 steps.

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Mostly, relationship is thought to be interplay between people.
I share a relationship with the resident swallows of the stairs also. They see me coming – and most anyone else for that matter – and dart and flit as I climb. I relate to them, they relate to me, regardless of whether my movement stirs up tiny midges that they feed on, or some other reason completely, it matters not.
Relationship.
So to with the stairs.

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Myself and many others relate to those stairs on a daily basis, and over the decades those stairs ‘feel’ the effects of our footsteps, tiny bit by tiny bit, slowly wearing and smoothing.
Folk relate to these stairs in different ways.
Some people avoid them completely.
Others with a grimace of resignation, shrug their shoulders in greeting as you pass.
A spritely elderly couple take to the stairs each and every day. Three sets completely up and down, one after the other, 654 steps in total. As you pass them by, they barely register recognition, focusing intently, embracing the burn, and its vitalising effects.
For me, that relationship changes.
Some days I fly upward, my bare-feet barely touching, gliding, swallow-like.
Other days I plod, stop to look back from where I have come, every step the totality of my existence.
After rain, I treat with great respect, wary of their bite, should I slip on the smoother concrete steps.
Over the years on those stairs, I have witnessed the resident black snake basking in the sun, a Wallaby bounding, an Echidna foraging for ants in the concrete cracks. This morning a Bandicoot hurried across the stairs. Sometimes I sit on those stairs and listen to hir stories. I have walked up those steps and the thoughts of those who have passed before seep in, infiltrate, even assail my being. On one occasion, I met a man in a hurry as I was halfway down on his way up. He had a guilty air about him and was quick to move on. As I descended I was to discover the reason, walking into the most foul-smelling fart imaginable!
I’ve seen people climb these stairs with fully laden Rucksacks, folk carrying bikes slung over their shoulder, fluorescent lycra-wearing personal trainers screeching at their charges. During the summer months when the sea-pool is open a steady procession of feet caress, thump, slap and shimmy up and down the stairs.

These stairs impel respect.

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smelling the breeze

The well-known Zen quote says: ‘Where there are humans, you will find flies. And Buddhas.’
Apt no matter location, but especially relevant to bushland areas situated adjacent to towns. Such locations within short driving or walking distance, tend to attract that which desires to be hidden.
Couple this with a landscape of steep cliff-lines, ideal for whale watching, and with a tragic history of suicides; Aboriginal Tribal Grounds; a local bagpiper who plays most days; stunning coves, coastline and dense bush-land that attracts walkers; varied bird and animal life; a Lighthouse that is listed online as a gay hookup site, then you bring together a varied cross-section of humanity.
Meet Warden Head.
With such a rich history, sensitively attuned folk intuit a rich soup of energetic vibe.

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Entering the bush-track from the Lighthouse earlier this week, I flashed on three worlds of the Headland:
The upper world is represented by the Sea-Eagle soaring in the sky, visionary, able to see from one world into another; the lower world is represented by the Snake, mostly hidden from sight yet able to feel vibrations from  within the earth over the eons; and the Wild Dog, which roams the middle world, super-sensitive to scents carried on the winds of time.
By riding the energy of Eagle, Snake or Dog, one is able to tune into a seamless holographic past-present-future.
And so walking along the narrow track, canine footprints on the ground became a gateway to perceptual shift.
Trance-like, thoughts dropped away, to be replaced with a primal sensing. Walking through the bushland, agile feet, ears attuned to the quietest noise, head instantaneously moving in accordance with sound, eyes hyper mobile, nose attuned to the breeze. Smell was especially acute, the scent of perfume, (human or plant), wallaby, fox, all transported by the wind.
Reaching the Aboriginal dance ground, the smell of sweat from moving bodies and ashes smouldering in a campfire filled my being. Figures flashed amongst the grass, dry, dead trees animating into live Indigenous beings. Kids running around, other folk sitting around the fire, still others coming up the track from the nearby cove.

All told I wandered through the bushland track for about 40 minutes before emerging onto the soccer field to the west.
A Sea-eagle flew across my view, breaking the spell.
I headed back down the road to town, every few minutes a car would pass on the way out to the Headland.

 

the shining tree

Driving into town from the north, the first thing most folk notice – apart from the harbour – is the Civic Centre on the other side of the road.
The newly renovated Civic Centre was expanded, modernised and completed in June 2014.
Locally, the new award-winning building has been met with great support and is widely acknowledged as a success in terms of design and appearance.
Certainly, the eye-catching, glass dominant building, and the surrounding reserve area, is a focal point for visitors.

paperbark

But, it’s not the Civic Centre that is the shining light of this land, but the Paperbark that stands to the front.
The Tree, which grows between harbour and Civic Centre, has roots extending both ways, links that connect.
The pale-coloured Tree-being soaks up the coastal morning light, illuminating the surrounds.
The papery bark is tactile; who can even think how many hands have caressed, pinched and exfoliated that Tree over the years. This Tree is surely the most touched tree in town.

paperbark2

Sit against the trunk of the Paperbark and listen to hir stories:
of Blessing of the Fleet Parades; wild storms that lash waves into the harbour; early morning walkers and their dogs that are also attracted; market stalls and carnivals; the daily cavalcade of thousands who drive along the road; the accidents and near misses; the lovers by moonlight who make special use of the Tree, the bed-sheet like quality strangely appealing; of Salman Rushdie years ago when in hiding, on a secret visit to town.
The Tree has seen it all.

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north head, snake spirit, death.

North Head overlooks Ulladulla harbour. The local Indigenous Council have created a walking track that winds through the scrubland. Mostly, I walk to the south of the harbour. This morning, before sunrise – after a long break from this side – I went north. Carved wood figures, created by local Koori artists are spaced along the track.

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A Snake guards the Headland, looming large at the entrance; Snake-spirit is of the earth, of grass and leaf litter, powerful, all-seeing, though rarely seen. Dangerous, often poisonous, but the venom can be healing and  revelatory, not just deadly.

Snake-spirit was to stir soon, I was to discover.

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Hunter-man stands tall near the start of the track. Seafood – shellfish and fish – sustained the local Indigenous People.

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Old and new. Where once fish were speared or caught in rock traps, a multi-million dollar fishing industry now ply these waters.

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Standing looking out to the rising sun at the tip of the Headland, Snake-spirit awoke.

To the front, a peaceful ocean and warm sun filled my view.

But to the rear I felt movement. From the ground beneath, creeping up my spine. Serenity at the fore, dis-ease at back.

Suddenly, in a frenzy that swept through my body, I was being attacked by some sort of hooked knife or machete. My back was hacked as I was brutalised onto the ground. The attack was ferocious, unrelenting.

The vision dissolved.

The ‘inner-eye’ had glimpsed into the past. The earth, snake-spirit, had revealed a North Head, secret. A killing most likely from the pioneering past.